By Our Parliamentary Reporters

Mbarara South Division Member of Parliament, Hon. Mwine Mpaka has been named Chairperson of the select committee to investigate operations and management of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF).
The other committee members include are Workers’ Representative, Hon. Charles Bakkabulindi, Hon. Karim Masaba (Indep., Industrial Division Mbale City), Hon. Michael Kakembo (NUP, Entebbe Municipality), Hon. Fortunate Nantongo (DP, Kyotera District), Hon. Laura Kanushu (NRM, PWDs) and Hon. Amos Kankunda (NRM, Rwampara County).

The committee was named during plenary sitting chaired by Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa .

According to the terms of reference, the committee will examine corporate governance structures at the NSSF, examine circumstances surrounding appointment of the fund’s managing director, evaluate status and safety of savers’ money in the fund and examine the extent of stakeholder engagement in decision making in the fund.

“They are supposed to report back within one month,” Tayebwa said. The Chief Opposition Whip, Hon. John Baptist Nambeshe however, raised concern over the inclusion of Bakkabulindi saying that as a Workers’ Representative, his membership on the committee would raise issues of conflict of interest.
“Because of that pre-existing relationship with the fund, he would easily influence the outcome of the investigation and therefore, he should not be allowed to participate in the investigations,” said Nambeshe.

The Minister of State for Defence, Hon. Marksons Oboth explained that there are procedures to handle conflict of interest in such cases.

“Conflict of interest is not a crime. If we are to follow that strictly, then nobody would sit in any committee. The conflict of interest would require him to declare that interest. But another argument would be, who is interested in the NSSF than the representative of workers,” said Oboth Oboth.  Tayebwa guided that consultations will be carried out on the same.


Earlier ,Speaker Anita Among had  ruled to set up the Seelect Committee to investigated the leadership row between outgoing NSSF MD Richard Byarugaba and Gender Minister Betty Amongi-  as  she vowed  that workers money shall  be protected at all cost and warned that those who want to use illegal methods  to misuse it will go to prison .

The Speaker made the ruling after saveral MPs raised  serious concerns about a letter from Gender Minister Betty Amongi wrote to the Chairman Board of Directors asking for 6bn to be included in the NSSF budget to among others “facilitate” the Gender ministry to mobilize savings and grow the fund .

Gender Minister Amongi at the center of the NSSF leadership row

The request for the 6bn was declined by out going MD Richard Byarugaba and sparked off the ongoing row between him and Minister Amongi . The minister declined to renew Byarugaba s contract but approved that of his Deputy Patrick Ayota -while accusing Byarugaba of corruption and mismanagement .  The MPs said that if there was mismanagement by Byarugaba in the spirit of fairness his deputy ‘s contract would have been put on hold too due to the principle of collective responsibility.

 “We need to restore public faith in NSSF,” said Speaker Among  following a heated debate during which MPs accused  Gender Minister Betty Amongi of applying double standards and mounting political on the Funds managers and Board of Directors to siphon out workers hard earned savings .

Speaker Among warned. “I don’t want to say this money is cursed. But I have grown up overtime seeing that whoever goes for workers’ money is rotting in prison.“

Before Among made her ruling, Rushenyi County MP Naome Kabasharira wondered how Amongi could defy a presidential directive, the Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja’s guidance  and board of directors recommendations on the reappointment of Richard Byarugaba as NSSF MD owing to stellar performance of the Fund.

“Ministers should respect authority. We have a Minister who has refused to take the authorities’ directives. Nabbanja is a Prime Minister. She wrote a letter based on directives from the President. Why don’t we trust the Prime Ministe.” Kabasharira stated.

 Kabasharira wondered why Amongi’s deferral of Byarugaba’s reappointment occurred after NSSF denying her access to Shs 6bn.

“When the Shs 6bn matter came up, that’s when Richard Byarugaba was asked to step aside. There is the deputy (Ayota). If anything happens (alleged mismanagement), we are jointly liable. Why retain the deputy Ayota and send away the MD? Then let all of them step aside until investigations are completed,” said Kabasharira.

Amongi puts up her defence

On her part, Amongi said she wanted Shs 6bn set aside within the NSSF’s operational budget to support efforts to mobilize various associations, industrial parks and diaspora to contribute to the Fund. She said out of 17 million workers, only 1.5 million save with NSSF.

Editor : msserwanga@gmail.com

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